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More privacy

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  • | 5:19 p.m. December 2, 2013
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Co-working space is hip in places like Silicon Valley, New York City and Austin, Texas, where tech-savvy entrepreneurs congregate.

But how well does co-work's open floor plan function in places like Naples, a city better known for its golf courses and retired CEOs?

Initially, the founders of Venture X thought retired executives might be big users of the 8,000-square-foot co-work space at the tony Mercato shopping center in Naples. Brett Diamond opened Venture X one year ago with his father, David Diamond, and John DeAngelis, the co-founders of DeAngelis Diamond Construction.

“I don't have anyone who's retired,” says Brett Diamond. “The average age is 35. That's pretty young, especially for Naples.”

That may not be too surprising. Co-work space is known for its open floor plans that foster collaboration among people of various industries. Entrepreneurs pay $299 a month and can come use a desk any time they need to work (it's $250 a month if they work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and $175 for after-hours and weekends.)

But it turns out some people like a little more privacy, even if they find co-work space more appealing than traditional offices. Initially, Venture X created four small private offices. “The first four offices went like that,” Diamond says, snapping his fingers.

“We added nine new private offices,” says Diamond, explaining how a wide hallway was partially converted into small offices with glass doors. The offices, which can fit from one to five people, cost $895 to $2,600 a month.

One of the reasons the offices are popular is because some of the members are Realtors and lawyers who need privacy for their businesses. “A lawyer was our first client,” Diamond says.

Also popular are the two private meeting rooms that can accommodate up to 12 people and cost from $280 to $300 a day. One undisclosed Fortune 500 company rents the meeting rooms from one to two weeks at a time to train employees. “The meeting rooms are a big revenue stream,” Diamond says.

Even in the open spaces, a dozen desks have dividers that keep prying eyes away. That's because some of the users require some privacy when they're working on projects they can't disclose for legal reasons. Some people prefer dividers so they can decorate them, Diamond chuckles.

The desk with dividers is permanent, meaning it's reserved for a user who pays $499 a month for it. It includes a dedicated phone line, a filing cabinet and a mailbox. “It's a step down from the private office,” says Diamond, who has rented eight of the 12 desks.

Still, the bulk of Venture X's 80 members choose the open floor plan. In response to a survey of these entrepreneurs, though, Venture X created three enclosed booths for private phone conversations.

Together, the 80 members represent 65 companies, mostly one-person operations who moved to Venture X from their home office. Still, just because it's got an open floor plan doesn't mean it's a big water cooler for work-from-home types. “We want people here to work, not socialize or pass out business cards.” For a more social area to chat, Venture X created a lounge with 30 plush seats.


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Brett Diamond, 33